Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Wedlake Bell LLP

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Wedlake Bell LLP

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Range of practice areas available and size of firm’, ‘I chose this firm because of the culture of the firm: a genuine belief in work/life balance, ability to just be yourself and show your personality’, ‘the opportunity to train at a full-service law firm within the City’, ‘full-service, mid-sized firm and collegiate atmosphere’, ‘small trainee intake, good work/life balance’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Friendly and supportive’, ‘culture’, ‘anyone can approach anyone’, ‘it sounds clichéd but everyone at the firm is genuinely so nice’, ‘many partners go out of their way to say that you can ask any ‘stupid question’ and to let them know if you are feeling overwhelmed’, ‘the approachability of staff at all levels’, ‘friendly atmosphere’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘NQ positions’, ‘the hours in some departments can still be pretty intense and there is an expectation to come into work early’, ‘turnover of the firm is pretty high among juniors – you’ll struggle to find many 2/3 PQE solicitors who trained here’

Best moment? ‘Very supportive supervisor’, ‘socialising with partners and senior members of staff’, ‘gaining a better understanding of the area of law I’m in and thinking I might not be a rubbish lawyer when I qualify!’

Worst moment? ‘Working until midnight to close a deal which didn’t close for another two days’, ‘being told off for taking an hour-long lunch’

The Legal 500 Future Lawyers verdict on Wedlake Bell LLP

Wedlake Bell LLP ‘offers the rare opportunity to work at a full-service firm in the City’. Trainees at the ‘mid-sized, collegiate’ London firm form part of a small intake and can expect ‘greater responsibility and plenty of opportunities to interact with clients’, as well as a ‘good work/life balance’. An ‘extremely friendly culture’ completes the offering.  ‘Anyone can approach anyone’ at Wedlake Bell, ‘it sounds cliché but everyone at the firm is genuinely so nice, I’ve been surprised by how kind and approachable everyone is across the board’. Trainees appreciate ‘partners going out of their way to say that you can ask them any stupid question’ and to ‘let them know if you’re feeling overwhelmed’. The social life is good too: ‘there is no shortage of events or get togethers’ where ‘partners and senior team members go out of their way to make you feel welcome’. ‘Working with a very good supervisor’ was a best moment. As is the case with many City firms, the hours at Wedlake Bell can be long. One trainee’s worst moment was ‘working until midnight to close a deal which did not then close for another two days’. Trainees are also slightly concerned that the turnover among junior solicitors has been quite high in recent years. To work at a ‘genuinely nice’ firm in London where everyone is ‘friendly and supportive’, take a closer look at Wedlake Bell. 

A day in the life of... Philip Slegg, trainee solicitor, Wedlake Bell LLP

Departments to date: Commercial property (current)

University: University of Surrey

Degree: Law (LLB), 2(1)

7.30am: I wake up, have a quick read through the latest news and listen to a podcast while getting ready for the day. I head out and grab a coffee on my way into the office.

8.30am: I arrive at the office and chat with some colleagues while logging onto my computer. I review any emails and messages that have come in overnight and update my to-do list with any urgent tasks that need completing today.

9.00am: I have a catch-up with my supervisor to discuss my workload and the different matters I am working on. My workload is varied – it is a combination of assisting others with discrete tasks and taking responsibility for progressing some of my own smaller matters with support from more senior members of the team.

9.30am: My first task of the day is to draft a licence to alter for a longstanding landlord client. A licence to alter formally records a landlord giving consent to a tenant to carry out works or alterations to the property. I review the points agreed between the parties so these can be documented accurately. I send my draft of the licence to the partner with oversight of the transaction for his review.

10.30am: The commercial property department has a social call every week. The department adopts a hybrid approach to working so the call is great for keeping in regular contact with the wider team.

11.00am: I have been asked to prepare a lease report for a client taking a lease of a new office space. I read through the lease and summarise the key provisions for the client – for example, the term, rent reviews and repairing covenants.

12.30pm: I head upstairs to the roof terrace to eat lunch with some fellow trainees. The firm provides a complimentary hot lunch for staff every day and this is always something different – I am yet to see the same menu twice! Although there is no cost to us, we are encouraged to make a donation to the firm’s charity partner, which is currently The Wiseman Trust.

1.30pm: I have a call with the partner who reviewed my draft of the licence to alter. We go through the draft together, and he suggests some amendments to make the document more favourable to our client. Following the call, I incorporate the amendments and send the draft to the lawyers on the other side for any comments.

2.00pm: I attend an environmental law webinar hosted by a barristers’ chambers. The firm encourages trainees to further their knowledge in any area of law they have a particular interest in. It is my turn to present at the commercial property department’s monthly know-how session next week so I will have an opportunity to share my knowledge with other fee-earners in the team.

3.00pm: I attend a client call with one of the associates in the team to discuss commercial points that have been raised by lawyers on the other side of a property sale. We take client instructions on how they would like us to progress the transaction. Following the call, I type an attendance note and send this to the associate.

4.00pm: We have just received an amended draft of a lease with some comments from lawyers on the other side. Our client is taking a new lease of a high-street retail unit. After I have reviewed the amendments, I summarise these for the associate who is overseeing the transaction and suggest which amendments I think we should accept.

5.00pm: Earlier in the week, I offered to assist a senior associate in the team with some research into assets of community value, so we arranged a quick call to discuss the scope of work required. I start my research by making a list of sources which I think will be helpful, and then I use a combination of practical and academic resources to prepare a short research note.

6.30pm: Before I leave the office, I close my time and update my to-do list for tomorrow. I join some others in the commercial property team for a quick drink after work.

About the firm

The firm: Independent law firm Wedlake Bell is headquartered in London. The firm is renowned for its family law and private client practice, as well as for its real estate work. Wedlake Bell advises clients ranging from FTSE 100 companies to owner-managed businesses and ultra-high-net-worth individuals.

The clients: Bank of Ireland; Countrywide; Honest Burgers; HSBC; Hugo Boss UK; Kuehne + Nagel; Lacoste; Millennium Hotels; Royal Academy of Arts; Tesco Stores.

The deals: Acting for YoBike on licensing arrangements relating to its patented YoBike bicycle rental system and mobile app; advised OKI Europe on the employment elements of the reorganisation of its EMEA operations; advised Warburg HIH Invest on lease transactions with H&M and Sushi Mania at a retail scheme in Cambridge; acted for Taylor Wimpey and Jaynic Suffolk Park in relation to the promotion agreement and construction documents for a 90-acre greenfield site in Suffolk; obtained injunctions for Fresh Wharf Estates Limited against boat owners who have moored their boats adjacent to land which is set to undergo a major residential development; assisted Pearson Lloyd Design with contractual negotiations with a major European airline relating to the design of the business class seating and cabin interior of a new fleet of Boeing 777-9 aircraft.

Senior partner: Kim Lalli

Managing partner: Martin Arnold

Who we are: We have strong expertise in real estate, private client, dispute resolution and business services. Our driving force is to empower our clients by providing quality legal advice, insight and intelligence that enables them to achieve their goals, whether personal or business. We are large enough to advise on the most complex matters, but small enough to ensure that our people and our work remain exceptional and dynamic.

What we do: With 74 partners supported by over 200 lawyers and support staff, we operate on a four practice group model: private client, business services, real estate and dispute resolution.

What we’re looking for: We are looking for self-motivated trainees – individuals with potential who will thrive in a small, close-knit trainee intake. The key areas that we focus on are strong technical skills, enthusiasm and a strong work ethic.

What you’ll do: The training contract consists of four six-month seats in four different practice areas.  Trainee solicitors are closely supervised but have client contact and responsibility from day one.

Trainees are allocated a trainee buddy and a mentor to help them settle into life at the firm. Alongside their day-to-day role, the trainees will also attend a bespoke learning and development curriculum which covers core skills to complement their learning.

Wedlake Bell runs firmwide events (such as firm socials and the annual walking trip) which trainees are encouraged to participate in.

Perks: Pension, health insurance, dental insurance, personal health and wellbeing support including virtual GP service, life assurance, season ticket loan, corporate gym membership, additional holiday scheme, give as you earn, cycle to work scheme, employee mortgage advice, birthday leave, subsidised firm-wide trips.

Sponsorship:  PGDIP, SQE funding and maintenance grants available, subject to terms and conditions of any offer. Wedlake Bell will be working with the University of Law as our SQE preparation course provider.

Diversity, inclusion and wellbeing initiatives

Wedlake Bell is committed to being a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Wedlake Bell runs a mentoring scheme and hosts wellbeing events throughout the year. The firm offers mental health and wellbeing support with access to therapy services, an employee assistance programme and trained mental health first aiders.

The firm works with Rare Recruitment and also offers work placements through Inspire, the Law Society Diversity Access Scheme, City University Micro-placements and 10,000 Black Interns. The firm has also built links with schools and universities such as King Solomon Academy, Middlesex University and London South Bank University.

The firm also has active internal networks and a Diversity & Inclusion committee. Recent sessions include a series covering Micro-aggressions in the workplace and Neurodiversity.